Thursday, April 19, 2012

Acts 2:38

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Acts 2:38?

ANSWER: First of all, everything said in that verse is applicable to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles. It is about the church and not simply for Israel alone. As well, you cannot translate the passage without knowing the Greek language. That is why I have taken more Greek courses than anyone you will ever know. I have almost 60 hours of graduate Greek. This is important to understanding the doctrinal issues in the NT.

If Peter had given that verse in English he would have received a grade of F. You must understand how Greek grammar works.

In the verse you have a mixture of singulars and plurals. We don't mix singulars and plurals in English grammar but it was accepted in Greek. Here's how the verse reads in the grammar of Greek:

  • "All of you (plural) repent (Aorist T.) for the forgiveness of (all of your sins, plural) …
  • and all of you (plural) shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then let each one of you (singular)
  • be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ."

Repentance brings about forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Then after they have repented and received forgiveness, the individual is to be baptized in water as a sign of their being washed which is a sign of their salvation.

In this, all the plurals are kept together and the singular is kept separate as well.

The Jerusalem congregation is mentioned in Acts 5 and it is called a "church" (v. 11). And it is called again the Jerusalem church in 8:1-3. Some wrongly attempt to say that the church did not begin until chapter 9. When I showed these verses to one who held that false view, he dropped his mistaken idea.

The great scholar Nicoll points out that at that time Baptism was the sign of the admission into the visible church, whether Jew or Gentile.

The great grammarian A.T. Robertson agrees and writes:

"Change of number from plural to singular and of person from second to third. This change marks a break in the thought here that the English translation does not preserve. The first thing to do is make a radical and complete change of heart and life. Then let each one be baptized after this change has taken place, and the act of baptism be performed 'in the name of Jesus Christ.'"

Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (4/12)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Agape and Phileo in John 21:15-17

Dr. Couch, in John 21:15-17 Jesus asked Peter three times, if he loves Him. In English we only have one word for "love" but if you look at the original Greek text of the Bible the word used for "love" is "agape" the first two times but "phileo" the third time. Why do you think Jesus used agape the first two times but only phileo the third time?

ANSWER: We do have an English word for phileo, it is the word "to like." Or, "to befriend." Agape should be rightly translated "to love" in the deepest sense. The reason is obvious. Peter had not cultivated that deep care and love for Christ at that point. That would come in time. Peter had not reached a point of truly loving Christ. His appreciation would grow over the months and years. This happens with all human beings and it certainly would happen with Peter when he realized truly who Christ was.

I believe today we who believe in Jesus as our Savior do the same thing. We become more understanding of His great sacrifice for us and we begin to truly love Him as we should. Time is a good instrument in maturing our love for Christ.

Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (4/12)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Heavenly Kingdoms

Dr. Couch, how do we know the difference between the "Kingdom of heaven" and the "Kingdom of God" in opposition to the other heavenly kingdoms mentioned in Scripture?

ANSWER: All the references that say the "Kingdom of Heaven (God)" are references to the millennial kingdom. Almost all the other kingdom references would be God's rule over His heavenly kingdom. Dr. John Walvoord gave high praise and endorsement to my Hermeneutic book in which I deal with this issue in chapter 22.  You need that book for a multitude of reasons. The orthodox Jewish rabbis tell us that it was common for the Kingdom of Heaven (God) references to be referring to the millennial reign of the Messiah.

I think part of our fear of being clear ourselves on this matter is because of the false influence of Covenant Theology. The Word of God is really easy to read and understand if we don't come to it with preconceptions that come from poor theology. Just let the Bible speak!

Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (4/12)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Abraham's Faith

Dr. Couch, what did Abraham put his faith in as mentioned in Genesis 15:6?

ANSWER: You mentioned several commentaries and Bible teachers who said they were not sure what Abraham's faith was pointing to. I think they are dead wrong, because the passage to me is clear.

Verse 5 makes the point: God told him he would have a great number of children. "And [God] said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'" Abraham would be so blessed, then verse 6 adds: "Then he believed in the Lord and He reckoned (accounted, imputed) it to him (his faith) as righteousness." The belief is in what God had said to him about having a great number of children though he was impotent and Sarah was barren. The object for Abraham was God's promises. Now our object is in the Messiah, that He would come and that He died for us!

I don't see the problem the other Bible teachers are having. You should have read Unger who says:

"The condition was solely on the ground of faith in the divine promise of a son, an heir, ..." "Abram's faith rested in the naked word of God. He was 'fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform."

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (4/12)